Most people are aware that Jesus spoke seven times from the cross. Those seven words are often the subject of Easter sermons. They depict Christ’s agony and his love for those about him. It is remarkable that when he spoke, he included concerns about those who are complicit to his murder. He asked the heavenly father to forgive them.
This week, being holy week, we are going to observe that his killers also spoke seven times to Christ. It was their intention to speak vile words to him and mock him. These seven sayings TO the cross were not spoken by faithful disciples or obedient followers.
These words were spoken during his agony when he should have only known devotion. Yet, through those lips God insisted that in some way truth be admitted by those who refused to believe in Christ. Therefore, these despicable people spoke two eternal truths.
These words are recorded in Matthew 27:39-42.
The first truth was that Jesus saved others. In the culmination of their hatred toward Jesus they recognized that he was the Savior of people. If they could only listen to themselves, they would come to believe in Christ because they said he was the Savior. What a contradiction of terms this was when these people standing on the ground and looking up to the cross yelled that he saved others. They may have meant this as a form of more mocking but was still true.
How dramatically wonderful it is that evil must admit the identity of Christ as the Savior. How beautiful it is that Jesus himself had the ability to forgive sins.During Christ’s ministry a man was lowered through a roof in a house so that Jesus could speak to his illness. He healed the man, but when Jesus was criticized for this healing, he pointed out that he also could save him from his sins which he did. The man was healed physically and spiritually.
It is almost beyond our imagination to grasp that the son of God, the second person of the Trinity, walked this earth and said to people, “I forgive you.” In a similar way today, whoever is open to hear those words and ask for forgiveness, Jesus will forgive.
The second truth is that he could not save himself.
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus reminded his disciples that he could easily be rescued by calling 10,000 angels to defend him. The intention by the heavenly father and Jesus was not for him to live a harmonious life and then eventually die as an old man. The intention was that Jesus would be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind.
Christ could not be the biblical sacrificial lamb for the sins of all mankind by coming down from the cross. His work would have been half finished. He performed his ministry for over three years and if he did not die on the cross, all would be in vain.
What good would it be to have a Savior who saved himself and not have the means to save others? What good would it be to have a Savior who did not fulfill all the ancient prophecies? What good would it be to have a Savior who put himself before others? What good would be for Christ to obey those who ridiculed him and come down from the cross? What good would it be for Jesus to have faced the ridicule over all the years of his ministry? What good would it be for Christ to suffer all the pain that he did before his crucifixion and even the early parts of his crucifixion, if he came down from the cross?
The answer to these questions is that Jesus could not save anyone without his crucifixion and that if he came down from the cross, he would be accused of being a magician and a charlatan. He prophesied to his disciples that he would be crucified and he would be resurrected on the third day. He could not be resurrected without his death. He could not save himself!
The challenge to not save himself is directly tied to the salvation of all mankind as prophesied thousands of years ago. He has completed the course and the plan to be our Savior. Knowing what he did on the cross, how can we not accept him as our Savior and ask him to forgive us of our sins?